General aviation will struggle to survive the transition to net-zero carbon emissions according to the Regional Aviation Association of Australia (RAAA).
The RAAA made the remarks in their submission to the Federal Government's White Paper process, citing the high cost of replacing legacy avgas-powered aircraft with new low-carbon models such as those powered by electric motors or hydrogen-electric power plants.
"On net zero goals, the RAAA’s members are ambitious but cautious, and are especially keen to learn how government will support the aviation industry through one of its most disruptive transitions," said RAAA CEO Steve Campbell.
"If we do not get this right, there is the potential to leave many organisations behind. These will be mainly from the regions, with a catastrophic flow-on effect on connectivity for regional communities.
"This is why proactive government support for this sector of the industry is critical for a successful transition to net zero for regional aviation."
The RAAA believes that general aviation is particularly vulnerable in the move to net-zero, given the pressures already being applied to the industry.
"GA is being squeezed by the GA airports looking to non-aviation assets for improving their own profit margins," the submission states.
"In the face of these major business pressures, we are now asking them to upgrade their fleets and meet net zero targets. For some this will be unachievable, and we will see hangar doors closing.
"The most likely avenue for GA to meet net zero will be via electric aircraft; however, the capital outlay for these aircraft will be considerable, and their endurance limitations make them untenable in the very near future.
"Support for the capital outlay in asset financing or even tax write-offs is essential."
To combat the threats to GA, the RAAA made three recommendations in their submission.
- Ensure airports provide lease opportunities at appropriate costs
- Ensure CASA acts on their sector risk profiles and reduces red tape for GA
- Provide funding assistance (or other financial incentives) to modernise fleets to meet net zero targets.
"Unless these three areas are acted on, GA will struggle to survive as it is," the submission states. "Flight training will be limited to major airline or university schools and recreational flying will be limited solely to RAAus aircraft."
The RAAA submission also focused on LAME shortages and the unchecked movement of pilots from regional airlines to the major airlines, resulting in a shortage of flight crew at regional airlines.
The full submission is on the RAAA website.